One of the biggest questions I’m often asked at my clinic is whether it is preferable to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. As parents, the decision is entirely personal and ultimately yours, but the following tips may help you decide which is best for you and your baby.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is very common and various studies have shown that breast milk contains natural and excellent nutrition for infants.
- Best source of nutrition: Breast milk is the ideal food for babies, as it provides all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that they need to remain healthy and grow; it is also extremely beneficial for your baby’s digestive system and is easy to digest
- Adapts naturally: Breast milk contains more of the essential proteins and fats than formula, making it ideal for your baby; it also changes in composition over time to reflect the changing nutritional needs of your bub as he/she develops and grows
- Boosts immunity: Breast milk promotes a healthy immune system by providing antibodies that reduce the risk of illnesses (e.g. ear and respiratory infections). Breast milk also protects children from developing common conditions such as allergies, asthma, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity
- Improves cognition later on: Some studies have also found that children who were breastfed have generally higher levels of cognitive function than children who were fed exclusively with formula
- Great for mums: Breastfeeding is great for mums, too: it burns calories and can lower the risk of illness such as breast cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. According to the Australia Breastfeeding Association (ABA), mothers who breastfeed get more sleep at night on average!
- Cost Effective: If you’re on a tight budget as a parent, breastfeeding your baby can reduce the need to spend money on formula and other bottle feeding products
- Good for bonding: The act of nursing can also provide a vital bonding experience between you and your newborn baby and this can be seen as important by many mothers/parents
The Benefits of Formula Feeding
While breastfeeding is widely accepted as the ideal, the right formula can also be a viable alternative if you choose not to breastfeed your child some or all of the time. Remember, it is your choice whether you breast or bottle feed and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you opt to feed your baby with formula.
Why would some mums choose formula over breast milk?
- More flexibility: Bottle feeding with formula can mean more flexibility, as you can leave your infant with a caregiver and avoid the need to schedule feeding (or breast pumping) times around other obligations you may have, such as work or rest; Formula also isn’t digested as quickly as breast milk, so babies do not have to feed as often
- No dietary concerns: If you choose to wholly formula feed your baby, you’ll have more freedom when it comes to your diet and won’t have to worry about what you are eating or passing on to your child
- Better comfort, less stress: Some mothers may experience pain during breastfeeding and this can lead to stress and exhaustion. If this happens to you, bottle feeding may be a better option to reduce your anxiety and ensure you stay emotionally and physically well
Note: While formula may be a good option for your baby, remember that it does not contain many of the natural nutrients found in breast milk. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to breast or bottle feed your baby.
There may also be some instances when it may be completely necessary for mothers to opt for bottle feeding over breastfeeding:
- Medical necessities: Some medical conditions (such as HIV or cancer with chemotherapy treatment) can mean breastfeeding is unsafe; if you are taking other necessary medications, it may also be necessary to choose formula feeding, since the medications may be harmful to infants
- Suckling issues: Some babies have a poor suckling reflex making it hard for them to feed from the breast (for example, this is common with babies that are born prematurely); as a result, formula feeding can be a great option and is much better than your baby not eating at all! It’s important to remember that suckling issues can be completely natural and are nothing to be feel guilty or ashamed over
- Poor milk supply: If you have issues related to poor milk supply (e.g. due to breast surgery or thyroid problem), you may find that formula is required in place of breastfeeding
For further advice on whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding or mixed feeding is right for you and your baby, contact me today on 02 9680 9669.
You can also book your appointment here – our clinic is located at Norwest Private Hospital in Bella Vista.